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State v. Veale

New Hampshire Supreme Court
972 A.2d 1009 (2009)


Facts

The state (plaintiff) charged real estate broker Scott Veale (defendant) with timber trespass and theft after he allegedly cut and removed oak timber from someone else’s property. Veale believed he owned the property and timber. Two public defenders represented Veale, but their relationship with Veale deteriorated after he declared the public defenders were part of a conspiracy against him and his family. The court conducted a competency hearing for Veale despite his disagreeing with the need for a mental evaluation. One doctor said Veale suffered from a paranoid disorder but was competent to stand trial, but the second said he was delusional and incompetent. Veale attended the competency hearing but did not take the stand. Afterward, the public defenders could not remember whether Veale had requested to testify. The court ultimately found Veale incompetent, but not dangerous, and dismissed the charges without ever confining him. Veale appealed pro se, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel and denial of due process. The New Hampshire Supreme Court stayed the appeal and remanded to resolve the ineffective-assistance claim. The trial court appointed Veale new counsel, denied the ineffective-assistance claim, and refused to vacate the incompetency finding. Back on appeal, Veale’s new counsel argued that Veale was denied procedural due process in the competency determination under the New Hampshire and United States Constitutions. In essence, Veale claimed that finding him incompetent attached such a stigma to his reputation that it affected his civil rights and liberty interests without due process.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hicks, J.)

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